This post is part two of a two-part series. Last week’s post (which I highly recommend reading before this one) looked at some overall cultural trends that have particularly pushed towards the widespread acceptance of gay marriage. In this post, I seek to present some starting thoughts for how the Church ought to respond.
Responses to gay marriage vary widely among professing Christians. Sadly, some have chosen to portray a message of hate, declaring that the homosexual community must “turn or burn.” Others have responded by opening their arms, softening the gospel to accept everyone as they are and not demand any changes. With such different responses, we must ask how the Church ought to respond?
I suggested last week that the cultural acceptance of gay marriage has been fueled by three main desires:
- The modern value of self-realization through choice.
- The post-modern dislike of barriers or boundaries.
- The post-modern elevation of diversity as an inherent good.
Rather than the Church militantly attacking gay marriage in the political sphere, I believe the Church must, first and foremost, stand against these cultural values that run counter to the Christian perspective. But there’s one big problem – the Church itself has drunk deeply from the cultural well. Consider the value of self-realization through choice as an example.
This value has radically shaped the “Christian” view of sexuality and marriage. The myth of “Mr. and Mrs. Right” clearly reflects this – out there somewhere is someone whom God has destined for you to be with who will be everything you could desire. They will fulfill all your needs. In short, they exist for the sake of your self-realization. Of course, none of us would put it that crassly. We couch such thoughts in terms of romance and true love, but more often than not, this is what we mean. Relationships become a means for our self-fulfillment.
Furthermore we see an incredible number of broken marriages within the Church. The value of self-realization through choice comes home to roost when Mr. or Mrs. Right realizes that the other is not so right after all. When the relationship no longer fulfills their needs, they realize that an alternative must be chosen. Indeed, choice becomes key to their personal freedom and so they choose someone or thing other than their spouse: a time-consuming hobby, an addiction, or even another partner.
As the Church, we cannot expect to address the issue of gay marriage in a firm yet loving way if the same values that lie behind it, exist in our own marriages. We must expose the ways that culture has entered our lives and is influencing our views, allowing the Spirit to renew our minds through the Word of God.
Thus, I think the call to the Christian Church ought not to take to picket lines, but to look to our bedrooms. We need to recapture a biblical and robust view of covenant that is centered in Christ. Our lives are to reflect the realization of Christ, not ourselves, and our marriages must do the same. If the Church can present an alternative to culture’s values, I believe it will open doors to both discuss and offer redemption to a hurting society.
Of course, this is just one step. There are many ways that culture infiltrates and shapes our thinking, but this is one that we desperately need to get right in a culture that is careening down a dangerous path.
May the God of all grace grant us wisdom and love, as we submit ourselves to Christ, allowing him to confront us.